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Ideas for the F&FS Challenges

Ideas for the F&FS Challenges

A wonderful 4-week holiday in Australia, Christmas markets and hosting lots of family visitors mean I’ve done very little news-worthy felt-making since my last Felting & Fiber Studio blog.  ‘Production felting’ is my own term for making lots of similar things for shops and markets.  I did a fair bit of this in November and December: mostly printed tea light holders, printed wool ‘pebbles’ and Christmas cards. These were my 2022 cards: handmade felt with hand-printing. I extracted the tree from a larger, royalty-free, public-domain image and added the heart before printing onto fine flat felt.

Handmade Christmas card showing a black spruce tree outline with a red heart on the top by Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork
My 2022 handmade Christmas cards

I sold these through various outlets and sent a small number myself.

I’ve enjoyed making felt ‘pebbles’ for some years. Since learning to print on felt from Lindsey Tyson, I’ve been able to adapt photos of some of my Mum’s watercolour paintings to print onto the pebbles.

Here’s the link to a previous blog post, which shows the tea light holders and includes a link to Lindsey’s excellent course https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2022/07/21/learning-to-print-on-wet-felt/

So, as I don’t have a lot of new stuff, I thought I’d contribute a few of my past makes and current thoughts as ideas for the first quarter and year-long challenges.

You can find the challenge details here

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/01/01/2023-first-quarter-challenges/

Thinking about the year-long tree challenge brought to mind a 3D tree stump I made 3 years ago.

The tree stump was part of a set of pieces I made to represent lifecycles.

More information here. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/03/01/3d-wet-felting-experiments-part-two/

Alas, I left the base alone for a long time during a pandemic lockdown and it was attacked by moths.  In a way, being eaten by moths was rather fitting: lifecycles in real life, but the moth holes meant I ended up cutting it up to make bookmarks (after some very hot washing). I did, however, recently sell the tree stump on its own and it now lives in Canada.

Pondering future projects for the tree challenge: I have a very tall, beautifully coloured ‘silver dollar’ eucalyptus tree in my garden.

eucalyptus tree top in a garden in Whitstable. Variety silver dollar
My eucalyptus ‘Silver Dollar’

I previously made a eucalyptus seed pod at a workshop with Gladys Paulus. Link here to find out more https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2019/11/14/a-felting-adventure/

3D wet felted sculpture of a eucalyptus seed pod in grey and white wools with a surface of mohair locks

The eucalyptus tree has potential for lot of other projects, including maybe using the leaves for eco printing onto felt. Eco printing is something I’d like to try, though whether I will get round to it remains to be seen. I don’t recommend any breath-holding for this.

Contemplating Caterina’s quarter-one challenge of making something practical that you can’t buy: one of my favourites is this case I made for my iPad mini. Nuno-felted with sections of recycled sheer silk scarf.

I know you can buy iPad cases but I like that this one is unique and fits perfectly without any fasteners. Because it’s an exact fit, the iPad stays put until you need it, then slides out easily.  It’s getting rather battered now as I carry it around all the time so maybe it’s time to make a new one.

Felted vases and plant pots are also both unique and practical. Here are a few. I like that you can co-ordinate them to your décor, or to a specific plant or flower, or just go for colours and patterns you like.

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2022/03/15/9-vases-a-plant-pot/ for more information on how I made these.

And finally, here’s something that meets both last year’s challenge to complete some UFOs (un-finished objects) and this quarter’s challenge to make something that you can’t buy.  

Here’s a pair of earrings that I started making a while ago using hand-dyed 14.5 micron Merino wool. I incorporated the earring post into the felt and some black sequin fabric inside using resists. These were inspired by the work of Aniko Boros and Judit Pocs.

two tear drop shaped wet felted 3D earrings in marbled greys. One smaller with tear drop cut in front revealing black sequins inside. One larger with no cut
The sequin section is more sparkly than in the photo

As you can see, I got quite a long way along, but while I finished fulling the one on the left, I stopped with the right-hand one in the pre-felt stage. I’m not completely sure why: probably it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. But it surely can’t take more than about an hour to finish that one, so I’m promising myself here that I will complete that second earring. The world will be minus one small UFO.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas about different ways of taking on the challenges.  How are people getting on with them? If you make something in response to these or any of our previous challenges, please do post your photos on the forum. We all love to see and be inspired by what other people are making.

In the meantime, wishing everyone a very ……

PEACEFUL

JOYFUL and

HEALTHY

A cute sleeping koala
koala
An emu with its mouth very wide which looks like it is laughing
emu
An echidna eating smooshed insect liquid with its very long tongue
echidna

…….. New Year

Magazines

Magazines

The Other Ann had posted about a challenge in a magazine she gets. Inspiration Magazine. https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/inspirations-issue-116/ it’s a needlework magazine. It looks really cool. So, I thought it might be an idea to ask people what magazines they read for knowledge and inspiration. Everyone seems to really love the Christmas beetle brooch. So I thought I would edit in the price for the kit, $129.00.  I am assuming that is Australian dollars.

I read Filz fu4n. the guild subscribes and there is an English supplement available. https://www.filzfun.de/magazin/en/

Wild Fibres is another interesting one. Lots of interesting articles and pictures.  https://www.wildfibersmagazine.com/

I look through Ply https://plymagazine.com/ and Spin-Off https://spinoffmagazine.com/ magazines at the Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild too. They don’t do felting but I spin and there are lots of colour inspirations.

     

 

I would love to see Felt Matters but can’t bring myself to pay $65 for a digital and $81 for a printed ( 4 per year) magazine.

I like to leaf through unrelated magazines too when I see them. art quilt magazines are inspiring. They are good at showing you how to break down and simplify a picture. Nature magazines of course are great for inspiration. I have an old National Geographic magazine that talks about wool. It’s packed away but I found a picture

 

So tell us which magazines do you read to learn, and/or get inspired.

2022 Grape vine altercation (better than 2016 battle)

2022 Grape vine altercation (better than 2016 battle)

It’s been a bit of a sore week, I lifted things I should not have and then got a bit over enthusiastic with the fall gardening (Glenn was very helpful). My brain keeps telling me I am 25 and my body insists I am 90. I would like to find a compromise closer to the lower number but cannot seem to talk my body into that.

Each fall I wander into my backyard and discover the raspberries have made a break for it across the yard heading for the neighbour’s fence. The Grapes have anticipated their troop movements and are waiting for them. Grapevines were draping themselves over the fence, clematis and up into the back neighbour’s tall hedge. This year I found they were also working their way down the fence toward the patio and had stopped to attack my Japanese lilac tree.

Normally I trim and pull the grape vines out of the hedge. Usually, this extraction goes well, except for the one year they threw me on the cinderblock garden edging. I may have been lying partly in the garden bruised, but still won the war since their extracted vines were still clutched in my slightly numb hand.

1- i am clutching the large branch of grape vine I had cut off then pulled from the nabouts hedge, arm is uprased do you can see part of the brews on triceps. The background shows the arber over the compost bin the grape vines are suposto be growing over.1-2016, I am clutching the large branch of grapevine I had cut off and then pulled from the neighbour’s hedge, my arm is upraised so you can see part of the bruise on the triceps. The background shows the arbour over the compost bin the grape vines are supposed to be growing over. (just to remind you that the grapes fight back when extracted!)

2- 2016 War of the Grape vines, I had taken damage but won (this is a close up shot of the brews purple center with blue edges. impressive hematoma. )2- 2016 War of the Grape vines, I had taken damage but won (this is a closeup shot of the bruise purple center with blue edges. impressive hematoma. )

Back to 2022

I do apologize I was not thinking as well as I usually do (I was still quite sore from the garage incident) and did not have my camera ready to document the coming battle and its aftermath.

I was not quite up to that level of physical conflict this year, being already quite sore from having attacked the moving of heavy stuff in the garage. Luckily, Glenn offered his help. With much tugging and a good pair of anvil pruners, the tree was freed from the assaulting grape vines.  Glenn dragged the long pieces of grapevine to the sideyard to await my displeasure.

We (mostly Glenn) filled a yard waste bag of pulled weeds and errant raspberry plants. Then he retreated from the battlefield defiantly the victor of the first battle. (Glenn had a few scratches and I was still aching from previous endeavours)

Now on to the more fibre-oriented part of the day.

For the past few years, I have put my captured grape vines to use by trying to weave grape wreaths. The first few were ok but not substantial enough, not enough vine for the circumference it tried. The last few years have been much better.  I hang the new ones on the gate and on the dog fence. This year the pieces of the vine were longer than usual and I had more of the old stalk as well as a lot of the new growth.  I had a couple of pieces with old stalk last year and had tried soaking it to see if I could make it more pliable. It did not seem to make a difference, but I may not have been patent enough with the time I had left it soaking.

This year I started with the longest piece which had quite a bit of old stalk and slowly started the circumference (bent it to my will- maniacal laughter), weaving in the side and branching parts as I came to it. Sometimes I would have two side branches weaving as well as the main stalk. I would try to wrap them one from the inside and one from the outside as well as routing the main stalk around the growing wreath. I would add a new stalk as I go, to the tip of the old one.

3- close up of grape vines wound into a wreath with leaves left on. The house bricks may give a bit of scale. (big leaves this year 3- close up of grape vines wound into a wreath with leaves left on. The house bricks may give a bit of scale. (big leaves this year)

I know I could get better compaction if I took off the grape leaves but I like the way they look as they dry and the chickadees seem to like the leaves on them through winter.

For this wreath I have only extracted and used about half the errant grape vines from the back yard.  I still have to get the rest out of the hedge. So knowing I will have more I used all the extremely long stocks to make one very big wreath. I did get a picture of the finished project for you.

4 – Large wreath sitting on iron bench and leaning agenst the brick wall of my little house4 – Large wreath sitting on iron bench and leaning agenst the brick wall of my little house

As usual the grapes have disappeared (into the birds, raccoons and the rest of the local wild life), but we did grow very big leaves this year!

5- This is the side of the yard we cleared of the vines. Japaneses lilac beside wooden fence. A pot of Saskatoon berries with red/orange and gold leaves to the side of the picture.5- This is the side of the yard we cleared of the vines. Japaneses lilac beside wooden fence. A pot of Saskatoon berries with red/orange and gold leaves to the side of the picture.

6- hidden by grapevines, the fence the arbor and one end of the nabours hedge. 6- hidden by grapevines, the fence, the arbor and one end of the nabours hedge.

This is part of what’s left to get under control! that hopefully will be next weekend’s work.  There is not much left to do in the garden but harvest the extremely slow growing carrots, the last of the herbs and hope the last of the cherry tomatoes hurry up.

 7- Possibly over optimistic tomatoes it is almost November! Close up of cherry tomatoes the closest to stem is just starting to change from green to orange but not yet red.

But for now its time to head back to bed. Other than ticking off my back last week, I also go my covid shot, was that yesterday or was it the day before? It’s a bit of a blur, which means it’s working.  So I’m heading back to bed feeling like I have caught the flu, give me another day or two and I will be back on line. (Don’t worry, I always react badly to flu shots, covid shots just seems to hate me a bit more. Glenn got his and had no side effects at all!)

So please felt and have fun twice as much to make up for my lacking the last however many days this is/was.

8- Gratuitous marigold flower shot of to inspire you with their Red orange and yellow colours. Even the foliage is trying to inspire with the shades of green and purple where the cold has hit them.8- Gratuitous marigold flower shot of to inspire you with their Red orange and yellow colours. Even the foliage is trying to inspire with its shades of green and touches of purple where the cold has hit them.

 

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”.  I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work.  I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”).   This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.

I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.

In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed.  Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!

The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”.  The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.

“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.

“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”

Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet.
The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.

Sea Shell collection with Sea Urchin “
skeletons”

The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)

The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me.
Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.

She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.

One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images.  This did produce some interesting results.

We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.

Showing the progress from picture strip to felted swatch

Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).

As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.

Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.

Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.

which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design

This is the design I finally ended up with.

There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour.  And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.

The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine

And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work.  Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.

The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”. 

We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world.  (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.)  A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.

I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.

Some inspiration for the second quarter challenge.

Some inspiration for the second quarter challenge.

As most everything I have for felting is packed in boxes at the moment, I thought I would share some of the pictures I’ve taken around the farm for inspiration for the second quarter challenge. Usually, I take landscape-type pictures, most often with sheep in them or pictures of flowers, fungus or moss. I tried to be less organic this time.

These are parts of a rusty trailer. the first three are the fenders and the next ones are the decking. I particularly like the rusty bits.

These are some chairs we have the plastic ones had blown over in the wind and the undersides were quite interesting and dirty. How do they get so dirty underneath?

 

This is a stack of metal chairs waiting for warm weather.

Here are a few more metal bits I found around on a walk with the dog.

The bottom of my daughter’s canoe was good for a couple of pictures, an old label and scratched-up paint.

Many years ago we had a fenced yard. There is one small bit left that is slowly going back to nature.

 

A fence post in the field

 

And I couldn’t resist some moss and a cool rotting log.

Hopefully, I have inspired you to take some different pictures and not made you nod off. You can use one of these for inspiration if one catches your eye. We would love to see it. you can share your inspiration and your finished work in our gallery by using this form. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/community-photo-submissions/

 

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

For those of you who have not met Mr. Mer, here he is last year as I was working on his anatomy.

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1-2 Mr. Mer 2021

Mr. Mer was underwhelmed with how I had left his basic under-structure of his fishy bits.  I agreed with him that he was not quite as pike-like as I would like. The fish part of the body needed to be thicker and more muscular when compared to my photo reference. How can you fight snapping turtles with such a scrawny lower body?  I still liked the vestigial knees but felt the idea had not yet coalesced into a good integration between man and fish.  I will think more on this as I add bulk to his fishiness.

3 parts of the green fibre collection.

I dug through the greens I had been using, I was almost out of one of the colours I had blended and will have to blend more of it! I was using the large ball of “Olive” Corriedale as the base and adding other greens to mottle and create the colour for the under-structure.  The darker top that I was blending with the olive I am pretty sure some was the Superwash I had bought from the Black lamb.

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4-5 blending wool to build up Mr. Mer’s fish body and tail.

Since I needed a reasonable amount of fibre to build up his fish end I used the hand carders to partly blend the colours. (Nature tends not to have flat colours.) Although I usually hand blend small amounts for details, using the handcards or even dog brushes is easier on the hands and wrists than working with the same amount of fibre hand blending.  When I take the fibre off the cards, it is still quite a long staple. For the under layer and blocking in the basic shape this will work. However, as I get closer to the final shape I tend to tear the fibre into pieces from half an inch to an inch long.

Although I started with the armature and adding shapes build-up of fibre as per Sara’s instructions I have deviated well away from her original Mer-Maid design. She tends to work by adding formed shapes, but for this one, she added a wet felted skin layer to put over her under-structure. I have had more fun using a more blended approach of both additive and subtractive sculpture.  (Adding pre-formed shapes and felting them into place is a lot faster than what I tend to do with using layers and small amounts of loose fibre to sculpt into the desired shape).

You can see I have moved from legs with a tail shape Mer-Man to the beginnings of a more human-fish hybrid.

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6-8 upgrading Fishy-bits underway

I like the direction but need to increase the height and a bit more width of the fish section. I am investigating the popliteal space (the area behind the knees).  I like the angle of the intersection but want to raise the fish spine a bit higher.

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9-10  Needs a bit more

Oh no,  he is not going to like the way that tail looks, it’s a bit bear. I over fanned the armature of the tail and then added wisps of full-length staple. I added a bit to each side using a variety of needles and finally the punch tool (fake clover tool). so when I adjust the tail to the correct position the webbing should ripple like partly closing a fan.

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11-12 Working on the tail

That seems a bit better so I switched back to the body again.

13 elevating the top line of the fish body

I have made both the top line higher and am investigating the angle of integrating behind the knees. Tomorrow Is Library Day for the guild and I will ask Ann what she thinks. So it’s time for Mr. Mer to get into his project bag (not that I expect to have any time to work on him tomorrow) but I am sure he will enjoy getting out of the house and Ann will like seeing how he is coming along.

14  On Library Day, Ann Checked out  Mr. Mer’s Progress, she had a few suggestions.

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15-17 Ann critiques him

As we got the library ready for book pick up, Mr. Mer took up position on top of a small 8 harness loom to watch for guild members wanting their requested books.

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18-20  Mr. Mer is watching for Library patrons

 I noticed he was having trouble bending and has to maintain a push-up to allow him to look out the window.  I have to see what I can do to help him. I will start with an assessment of his ROM (Range of Motion) particularly at his waist but that will be in my next post.

I will hope you are not getting bored with the fishiness of my posts and promise to try to work on something different, but the next post will be part 2. There may be surgery involved!

Have fun and keep felting!!

I am running behind so…..

I am running behind so…..

I declare throwback Tuesday. I seem to have run out of time this week so I thought you might like to see this post from 2017. Jan posted some pictures in our guild group and it reminded me and I thought it was worth another look. I hope it and the links to the other 2 posts about it will give you lots of inspiration for your own work.

Ann

 

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit. http://mvtm.ca/?exhibition=colour-unboxed the first is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/18/colour-unboxed-by-out-of-the-box/ and the second here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/26/out-of-the-box-part-2/ Again I apologize for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture, you may find it hard to see but there is a very long weaving draped across the ceiling.

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2021 is almost done, looking foreword to a better 2022

2021 is almost done, looking foreword to a better 2022

It is almost the end of the year, which is good since this one has not been one of the best years I have seen. I must also admit it has had a few good moments.  We had tried to keep in touch with family and friends, through calls, zoom meetings and sometimes when we are very lucky in person.  There was even a bit of in-person fibre shopping towards the end! (ooh Fiber!!) This year I have been investigating wire and still have the ongoing investigation with samples of hairspray. I added a tiny dragon to the family and have one more nearing completion.

Speaking of Dragon, he was very excited about one of my Xmass gifts this year. It will take another day or two to get it figured out. I think I understand how my friends feel when I type too late at night! What I mean is that the instruction manual while written using English words, and most are incomplete sentences, is still incompressible. However, it is truly amazing how you can have a paragraph of words that are about the battery yet still do not tell you exactly how to add the battery!

It does have the specks I was wanting: 4K Video/Camcorder, 48mp, 60fps(frames per second in the very fine print it only seems to be available at 1080 setting.) it is also light enough to fit on my existing articulating supports.

1-2 Xmas present

Since there was also a gaping lack of instructions as to how to put the macro and wide-angle lenses on as well as the lens hood (not the lens cover that doesn’t actually seem to attach if you have the other lenses on.) it took me a while to figure out how it fits together. I have figured out the remote (YEAH! A remote) can turn the camera off but not on…..I did figure out how to plug in the mike.

I am not sure if the German, French or Spanish sections might be more helpful. So it will take me another day before I am ready to try it out. I am hoping to be able to use it for felting. This is considered a very entry-level camera so I want to try it out and see if it’s got enough function to do what we need. Maybe Ann and I can try it out for some of her study group work.

Dragon volunteered to help me show you it set up at the computer desk. Here is his photoshoot.

3-5 I think Dragon is a bit of a Ham!

I am hoping Dragon will have better luck with the remote than I have had so far. If this works I hope to be able to show you the results at some point!

 

I also wanted to show you a few Christmas shots of Christmas past to hopefully inspire you with better memories than the last 2 years.

6 -10 Shots from Oakville in 2016 (There was snow!)

Have a wonderful New Year!! I am sure we are all looking forward to exploring an exciting new year (one with a limited imagination on number selection – 2022)

A bit of this and that

A bit of this and that

‘Tis the season to show off trees! I’m no exception, so here is my contribution.

A few years ago I had the idea of creating a portable Christmas decoration to sell in my shop. I wanted something small, cute and as eco-friendly as possible. The solution? Needle felted mini trees.

The trees

Needle felted miniature Christmas trees by Eleanor Shadow

I think they’re rather fun, even if I do say so myself. The colours are bright and who doesn’t like miniatures?

Each tree has a wire frame to ensure stability. I needle felt the the larger components (tree trunk, copse and base) around the wire and the rest is made separately and stitched onto the main part.

It’s quite fun to felt the baubles, I used to take small amounts of differently coloured wool with me to doctor appointments and such and, whilst waiting, I could get 4-5 balls created. It was also a great conversation starter.

To finish things off nicely, I glue the whole ensemble onto a sturdy piece of locally sourced wool disc and, as they say, Bob’s you uncle.

They’ve been quite the success this year, I’m down to the last one at the time of writing!

Wreathes

Another holiday idea was to create a wreath that could be used over and over again. Have I mentioned I like reusable, eco-friendly things? 🙂

I had some needle felting foam that I regretted buying. It wasn’t the best quality foam and I found out I hated using them, so they’d been languishing in my stash for a couple of years. I didn’t want to throw it away. One day it dawned on me: I could cut and use them for something else.

Needle felted Christmas wreath by Eleanor Shadow. It has a donut shape with felted balls and a red ribbon wrapped around it. It has a green ribbon bow at the top.

I love these wreathes and each year I look forward to hanging mine in my front door. They’re not huge because I had to take the foam’s original size into consideration but isn’t it cute?

Sewing

It wouldn’t be a post written by me without some sewing fun. I felt brave and bought some jersey knit fabric to make a Stasia dress by Sew Liberated. You might know a lot of sewers avoid jersey due to its stretchy nature. My previous experience hadn’t been the best but this time I was determined to succeed.

Fun fact: despite my determination, for some reason I didn’t make a mock version of the dress beforehand. I just moved on ahead directly to cutting the good fabric!

The consequence of this is that my sleeves ended up a bit shorter than I’d wanted, so I think I’m going to cut them and create a ¾ sleeve instead.

Eleanor Shadow shows off her Stasia dress in yellow jersey fabric.

Can you tell I’m so happy with the result? The black dots and stripes on the fabric are just so cute to me. My poor mother still wonders how I ended up going from wearing just black to being obsessed with mustard yellow, but here we are.

Yellow Stasia dress. Pattern by Sew Liberated, made by Eleanor Shadow.

That’s it for today. Can you believe it’s already December? This is my last post for the year, so I wish you a great New Year, filled with fibre and other fun stuff. See you in 2022.

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

It’s that time of year when there are lots of Christmas fairs coming up & I need to make some festive items. 

Recently, I picked up some Christmas-themed small wooden blanks (for tree decorations, or maybe gift tags) very cheaply in a charity shop. I started doodling on them with acrylic pens and found I was enjoying myself – it made me think about the recent popularity of adult colouring books.  Good for mindfulness.

Some examples of the painted blanks – there was quite a variety of shapes.

I know these aren’t fibre-related but it set me off thinking about doing something similar with felt. I bought some bauble-shaped wooden blanks online and after colouring a few in (colouring in is a little addictive) …..

 Some of the painted baubles

….. I decided to make a sheet of white felt, decorated with bits of vintage lace, old tatting and shadow-work embroidery, all bought in charity shops. I have a box full of old strips of hand and machine made ‘lace’, old dressing table doilies, bits of fine crochet….anything I think might felt. I thought this was an ideal opportunity to do some creative up-cycling. 

 

As I was making the felt it struck me that I have lots of handmade felt off-cuts, test pieces and samples that I could use in a similar way. A good opportunity to recycle work and release a little studio space. To continue my recycling theme, I even used charity-shop-bought crochet cotton for the hanging strings. 

These were cut from square samples I made during Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Felt class

 

Left, some more ink + cloth samples. Right, samples I made for my ‘hippie’ bag earlier this year

Left photo: Top left a nuno sample I made using recycled linen; the others were off-cuts from other projects

Right photo – the yellow was a coaster I made with coloured yarn; the green and pink are nuno samples, the blue is an example of paper felt with some acrylic pen

Finally, I painted some of the wooden bauble-shapes white, and married them with a broad strip of black vintage lace. 

So, the chance purchase of second-hand wooden blanks led me to upcycling vintage textiles and recycling some of my own felt off-cuts and samples. I love seeking out and using second-hand materials, especially small hand made things, usually made by women, that tend to be disregarded by many people. Often they are from something that has worn out, like a pillow case, or is rarely now used, like dressing table sets or antimacassars.

I have one particular piece of embroidery on fine silk that I couldn’t bring myself to use. The work is so fine I endlessly marvel at the skills of the woman who made it. It’s so intricate and beautiful with such tiny stitches it makes me feel slightly sad.  I bought it in a charity shop for £2. To me it’s a disregarded masterpiece.

Silk and embroidery (hand / finger included for scale)

The silk is starting to disintegrate and I’m really not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions? 

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